1.8 The 4 Requisites

Before a seeker can receive and benefit from the deconstructive inquiry that traditionally would follow these foundations, namely the 4 Noble Truths and their radical implications for the sense of self, they must be materially safe and cared for. You can’t practice unbinding your identity when you suffer food insecurity, housing insecurity, lack of adequate clothing and medicine.

The list of the 4 Requisites (food, shelter, clothing, medicine) describes the material survival needs that remain once renunciation and letting go have done their Marie Kondo on everything extra in your life. You need the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, basically, before you can practice further in the direction of unbinding identity and clinging.

But if that’s the case, what about those who don’t have these? Can contemplative inquiry and other psychologically deconstructive practices be safely and effectively taught to the poor, the vulnerable, those engaged in material and community survival? Should they be? What resources or social structures must be in place first?

Basically, how does the economic context of the neoliberal West change the nature of Buddhist practice and its potential as a liberation path?


Gratitude for the Requisites, Compassion for those without them

(Recorded on 2.26.19 at Insight Meditation Satsang, Berkeley, CA)


The 4 Requisites, poverty, the absence of monasticism as a social safety net, and the unreliability of the Requisites. Don’t take anything for granted. Gratitude.

(Recorded on 2.26.19 at Insight Meditation Satsang, Berkeley, CA)
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